Nova Scotia’s forest industry has a bright future according to industry leaders and representatives who participated in the Future of Forestry Forum today, Dec. 11, in Halifax. The one-day forum focused on the future of Nova Scotia’s forest industry and included presentations by industry leaders on topics such as trends shaping the industry, the role of innovation and technology and the forecast for the industry’s future. “Thousands of Nova Scotians across the province work in the forestry industry, contributing hundreds of millions of dollars to our economy,” said Premier Darrell Dexter. “The importance of the industry cannot be stressed enough for its role in creating jobs, and maximizing the wealth and benefit of our natural resources. “Our goal is to make Nova Scotia a leader in forestry and forestry innovation, and forums such as this one provide a roadmap to guide future success.” Natural Resources Minister Charlie Parker said people working in the forest industry know that it needs to evolve. “This forum played an important role in bringing together industry leaders and members of the sector to discuss how the industry must evolve in response to 21st-century trends,” said Mr. Parker. “The information shared today will be instrumental in shaping the future of Nova Scotia’s forestry industry.” Don Roberts, vice chairman of CIBC World Markets, delivered the keynote address on transforming the forestry sector. Other presenters included industry leaders and experts such as Dave Coles, national president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, Diana Blenkhorn, president and CEO of the Maritime Lumber Bureau, and Tom Browne, research manager for Forest Products Innovations. “We have always believed that forestry is not a sunset industry. Industry renewal takes vision and political will, both of which the Nova Scotia government has demonstrated today,” said Dave Coles, head of the country’s largest forestry union and a panellist in one of the sessions. About 200 delegates attended the forum, including Richard Freeman, co-owner of Freeman Lumber in Greenfield, Queens Co. “Today’s forum confirmed what we in the industry understood; we aren’t dealing with a declining industry,” said Mr. Freeman. “As the presenters noted, there are many exciting opportunities for the province’s forestry industry, including biofuels and lumber products.” On Monday, Premier Dexter announced the province had negotiated an agreement with Resolute Forest Products and the Washington Post Company to purchase the Bowater Mersey Paper Company Limited shares. The agreement gives Nova Scotia control of the largest block of privately-held lands yet sold in the province, enabling it to support thousands of families, provide opportunity for further innovation in the forest sector, and control its economic destiny. The acquisition of 555,000 acres of prime forest land is a crucial step forward in creating the future of the forestry in Nova Scotia. An overview of the agreement between the province and Resolute Forest Products is available at http://novascotia.ca/jobshere/ .